Last week we witnessed the White House assert executive privilege in the case of Fast and Furious documents that have been requested by the House Oversight Committee from the Obama Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder was about to be voted to be in contempt of Congress just before the letter arrived claiming executive privilege to keep the documents withheld. But is this the first time that Obama has done this for Holder?
According to Matthew Boyle at the Daily Caller,
President Barack Obama may have actually asserted executive privilege once before to protect Attorney General Eric Holder from congressional scrutiny, documents and congressional records obtained by The Daily Caller indicate.
During Holder’s 2009 confirmation hearings, Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn pressed Holder for details on the role he played in helping get Puerto Rican terrorists — members of the violent Armed Forces for National Liberation, who set off 120 bombs throughout the U.S. killing at least six Americans and permanently harming others — clemency during the Bill Clinton administration.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Holder drafted an “options memo” that allowed Clinton to grant commutations to the terrorists in the late 1990s when several high-ranking Department of Justice officials opposed the move. That options memo effectively facilitated clemency for those terrorists. Holder went against the DOJ’s Pardon Attorney Roger Adams’ “strong opposition to any clemency in several internal memos and a draft report recommending denial” and pushed to get the terrorists’ sentences commuted.
Boyle points out that while Clinton asserted executive privilege over several points involved involved, including the memo, he waived all executive privilege when he left office.
When Holder was being questioned in regards to his nomination as United States Attorney General and Cornyn pressed him to testify about details concerning Armed Forces for National Liberation, to which he claimed that he was “not authorized” to do so. Seeing as how Clinton had been out of office for almost a decade, it is clear that is was not due to any executive privilege that Clinton had given, since he waived those once he left office.
That means that one of three things happened. Either Eric Holder lied, which is what we’ve been seeing from him during the Fast and Furious hearings, or he simply forgot that Clinton had waived executive privilege. The final option would be that Barack Obama asserted executive privilege in this matter in 2009 to help Holder become Attorney General.
Neither the White House, nor Holder spokesperson, Tracy Schmaler, would answer whether or not executive privilege had been asserted by Obama on behalf of Holder in the matter.
If, in fact, Barack Obama did assert executive privilege, it would not be what the White House has been claiming since this past week and that is, in the words of White House spokesman Jay Carney, “I would note that this is the first time President Obama has asserted the privilege.”